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STOP stretching your ‘tight’ hamstrings!

The two main areas players’ tend to feel muscle tightness are the lower back and the hamstrings. This blog is to reveal what exactly is going on to cause this tightness and what we can do to correct it.

ANATOMY OF THE HIP

We firstly have to understand a basic biology of the pelvis. We have key muscles connected around the pelvis such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors (groin), hip flexors & glutes.

These allow for movements such as:
-Hip flexion
-Hip extension
-Internal hip rotation
-External hip rotation
-Knee flexion
-Knee extension

All these movements would be movements players would carry out during kicking, jumping, changing direction, sprinting etc.

 

So why do our hamstrings get so ‘tight’?

There can be a few reasons for this. The first being our hamstrings have to do a lot of work during a game. They work during acceleration and deceleration as well as changes in direction. The hamstrings are loaded eccentrically meaning

‘motion of an active muscle while it is lengthening under load’.

They have to work to help players decelerate and absorb forces applied on them as we previously mentioned in our Breaking good….not bad blog.

Training and playing has a metabolic cost that players are required to recover from. If this recovery is not optimal it can cause increased tightness/soreness from the build up of fatigue.

Just one reason why we talk about recovery so much! 

The other reason for this and one that we commonly see with players is that this ‘tightness’ is caused by the position of the hips.

 

ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT

Anterior Pelvic Tilt or ‘duck posture’ means that the pelvis is tipped forward causing a greater curve in the lower back and a pushed out abdomen (which isn’t necessarily body fat).

Many times this is the result of tightness in the flexors of the hip, inhibiting glute function & often leading to poor abdominal strength.

This change in posture around the hips can cause muscles to adopt abnormal positions.

The Rectus Abdominis, Gluteals and Hamstrings tend to become lengthened and weak.

The Rectus Femoris (Quadriceps muscle), Erector Spinae (lower back), Psoas, Tensor Fascia Latae & Iliacus (Hip Flexors) become tight and not necessarily strong.

This muscle imbalance gives signals to our body that our hamstrings and lower back are tight so we stretch them. However if we don’t root out the cause of the posture they will return to the same length regardless of how much time we stretch for.

 

So can we correct ‘Duck posture’?

A corrective program combining the correct amounts of stretching and strengthening can help to neutralize the position of the hips therefore reducing the ‘tightness’ in the hamstrings.

The tight areas have to be lengthened and the weak areas strengthened. This allows the functionality of the hips to be increased and gives players a greater potential of improving strength, speed & power.

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